Colombia

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Send e-mail to U.S. State Dept this week urging suspension of aid to Colombian military


Take Action: Send a message to the State Department



In the coming week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) will be issuing a report about the “False Positive” murders committed by the Colombian military entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia.” (“False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat.)  The research in the report shows that of the Colombian School of the Americas/WHINSEC instructors and graduates from 2001 to 2003 for which information was available, twelve of them 48% had either been charged with a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.  John Lindsay Poland, author of the report, will be meeting with State Department Representatives this week.

Accordingly, FOR, SOAWatch, and other NGOs think it is important at this time for immediate e-mail pressure on the State Department to end assistance to the Colombian military.  In February, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was appointed commander of the Colombian Army.  A former instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) General Lasprilla previously commanded Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and “war on terror.”  In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for at least seventy-five killings of civilians under his command.  Lasprilla’s appointment shows that Colombia is continuing its culture of impunity regarding military human rights abuses.

COLOMBIA: Holy Week delegation transforms gate of oppression at Las Pavas

On 16 April 2014 our twelve-person delegation traveled by van, motorized canoe, and foot to the community of Las Pavas.

We arrived at a community in mourning for the death of Rogelio Campos Gonzales.  Also known as “Pipio,” he died on 13 April, after suffering a heart attack.  Those living on the farm struggle with the question, “if the gate [that the palm oil company Aportes San Isidro had installed across the one road leading into Las Pavas to access difficult] did not exist, would it have been possible to avoid this tragedy?”

Even during this difficult time for the community, they received us with love and told and sang their stories.  While we listened, it was difficult to contain our emotions.

The gate for the people of Las Pavas represents oppression, death, isolation, discrimination, humiliation, and prison.  One of the purposes of our trip was to participate in a public action to redefine the gate that the security guards use to control movement from a symbol of oppression into a symbol of hope, peace, and freedom.

 

 

COLOMBIA: The People’s Land Summit, March’s March, and an Ultimatum

 

CAHUCOPANA, a grass-roots campesino organization that formed to defend the land and human rights of the campesinos in north-east Antioquia, has learnt that sometimes you have to leave your home to defend it. CAHUCOPANA asked CPT’s Colombia team to accompany dozens of buses from the department of Antioquia to join about thirty thousand demonstrators in a march in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, on 17 March 2014.

The march was planned to conclude and compliment the People’s Land Summit, also held in Bogotá.  The Summit itself, in which CAHUCOPANA also participated, was in response to the national government’s failure to live up to the commitments it had made as part of negotiations to end a nation-wide general strike in August of 2013. After having first met with and consulting their constituencies, leaders of various social movements and organizations got together for a Summit in Bogotá to decide how they could collectively best organize an appropriate response.

Participants included indigenous, Afro-descendant, campesino, artisanal miner federations, students, and others.  Although the government did consult with agro-industry and other huge stakeholders, it failed to honour its commitment to consult with or address the concerns of those who organized and took part in last year’s general strike. The Summit, therefore, came up with its own criteria and blueprint for an inclusive Colombian agrarian policy.  After the Summit, they presented the government with that blueprint and an ultimatum: comply with our demands by the first week of May, or face the consequences of another paralysing nation-wide civil strike.

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Pray for the safety of Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Colombia, who received a threatening phone call this week from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.  The members of the OFP are long-time partners of CPT’s Colombia team.


Epixel* for 10 April 2014



Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we
beseech you, give us success! Psalm 118:25

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary
readings.

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: U.S. and Canadian citizens, ask President Santos to protect member of Organización Femenina Popular who has received death threats.


On 3 April 2014 at 10:30 a.m., Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) received a threatening phone call from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

He began the call by saying, “You should donate three million pesos [US $1500] to the paramilitary group to mobilize thirty men from Medellin to carry out a social-cleansing plan to eliminate drug addicts, prostitutes, and everything that smells like a guerrilla.” He described to Sor Maria her whereabouts, where she and her daughter worked, and the color of the motorcycle she drove.

When she asked him whether he was demanding a vacuna—paramilitary protection money—he responded, “No, it’s a donation, and you have 120 days to pay.” If she did not donate, he said he would “shoot her, because he knew where she lived.”

Minutes later, he called back demanding to know why she hung up.  This time, Yolanda Barreca, the director of the OFP had answered phone. She told him that threats against Sor María Sampayo are threats against the OFP, to which he responded, “I know who you are; you bastards are going to die too, you can be sure of that.”

COLOMBIA: Social Processes that Transform Reality—the songs of Garzal, Nueva Esperanza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas

“Where does peacebuilding take place?  Where does the transformation of our reality start?  What are some of the tools that we should use to achieve peace?  Where is peace born?  The actual peace process has caused all of the sectors of society to mobilize in favor of an accord that will finalize the conflict, but has also evoked different feelings in these diverse sectors of society about what it means to sign a peace accord with the guerrillas.…

In the communities of Garzal, Nueva Esperanaza, Guayabo, and Las Pavas are some of the processes being built in our country, processes that remain hopeful although distant from the important government decisions.  These communities live their lives between songs, sermons, tears, and concerns, hoping that truth will prevail even lies appear so powerful.  Their songs express the truth of what conflict looks like in our country and describe how the consequences of poor decisions always fall on them.

Song “Mi Acordeón” – Music from the communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza.
For more songs from the Colombian agricultural communities Christian Peacemaker Teams accompanies, click here.

COLOMBIA: Get ready for Days of Prayer and Action 5-7 April 2014

Every year, communities across North America come together in solidarity with our Colombia brothers and sisters in an effort to show policymakers that they want real change in U.S. and Canadian policy towards Colombia.  With the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla group, the FARC, currently engaged in peace negotiations, there is renewed hope for an end to the war in Colombia.  After five decades of unspeakable violence, forced displacements, widespread massacres, threats against unionists and human rights activists, and the economic and social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, let us join Colombians in saying it is time for peace.  This year's Days of Prayer and Action are April 5-7.

Directly translated, the word “adelante” means “forward.”  “Adelante” can also mean “ahead,” with the implied desire to move past the current situation to something further on, to something beyond.  Peace and justice are not static concepts and neither are the people of Colombia.  With one foot in front of the other, Colombians are already moving ahead and going forward in the work of peace and justice throughout the country.  We hope that you will use the resources below and join with the organizations, churches, and ordinary people in Colombia in their desire and action to move forward.

¡ADELANTE!  Peace with justice for ALL Colombians!

WORSHIP PACKET
Dedicate a worship service to peace with justice for all Colombians.  Included are prayers, songs, poems, stories, reflections, and more.  Click here for a bulletin insert to engage your congregati

 

Join our Colombian sisters and brothers
in moving peace forward!  This packet
includes three ways YOU can make a
difference. 
Advocate for a change in US
policy by writing letters to Congress.
Create a display or craft night and what
steps are needed to  finally bring peace
with justice to Colombia. Demonstrate your
commitment to Colombia with  a public action.




IRAQI KURDISTAN/COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Damn Tree

 

[Note: Parwen Aziz is a Kurdish woman living in Iraqi Kurdistan.  She is currently participating in the first CPT training in Iraqi Kurdistan.  She knows firsthand the effects of governments exploiting villagers in the quest  for oil revenue.  She wrote this reflection after a role-play depicting the consequences for Colombian farmers when large corporations take their traditional farmland to plant oil palms, which can produce alternative fuel sources for automobiles. ]

Damn Tree
The cycle of life has been reversed.  Trees defeat the earth.  I do not like to say your name, Oil Palm.  Scents of gunpowder and pictures of distressed mothers because of a damn tree.  When I first heard your name and learned how your fruit could be squeezed and the juice used as a replacement for petroleum oil, I rushed to interrupt my teacher.  “How can we bring this tree to Kurdistan?”  I wondered.  I wanted the response to be that we could import this miraculous tree to our country.  I wanted this to be a substitute for oil so that all warfare, extermination, and destruction over the black substance will not happen to humankind ever again.  But, alas, all my dreams and imaginations were destroyed when I perceived that this tree caused just as much destruction.  This damn tree causes thousands of Colombian families to become fugitives from their homes.  Thousands of families have become low-paid workers in their own fields.

I became depressed when I heard a story of a widow with her son.  They were working in the heat for three months, planting, tending, and harvesting their corn.  All their efforts were fruitless and wasted.  Someone set the pile of corn on fire and the products were burned.  They were left with nothing to feed the children.  I heard her say, “Take as many pictures as you can, take photos of everything here so that the whole world will know of what happened to us.”  War and oppression pivots around corrupt governments and capitalism.  The core point is that the capitalists get a lot of money and they become rich and richer, while the workers and needy people remain poor and disappointed.

Las Pavas writes to President Santos regarding continued attacks on their community

The Farmers Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB) yesterday delivered a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos summarizing the continued attacks and threats received by the community of Las Pavas.  They appealed to him,  “Mr. President, you have shown your commitment to victims.  By virtue of this commitment we come to you, with the hope that the State would indeed act in our favor and avoid the repetition of incidents that victimize us.”

The community restates their commitment to “peacefully insisting”— despite attacks by palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro´s armed security—that the law provides the means to their complete ownership and right to the land.  In spite of winning the National Peace Prize in November and being re-recognized by the government agency that manages  reparations to victims, Unidad Nacional de Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas, the attacks and threats against the community continue.

As recently as 6 March, at 7.15 pm, under the cover of complete darkness,  the palm oil company’s guards threw bricks into the living areas of homes and onto roofs, creating dents.

 

See reflection on the damage caused by the palm oil industry written by Parwen Aziz, who is currently participating in the Christian Peacemaker Team training in Iraqi Kurdistan.

COLOMBIA: Apply now for CPT Colombia’s Organized Labour Delegation 17-31 May


Our May delegation should be especially appealing to those involved in organized labour.  Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists.  Participants in this delegation will meet with public and private sector union leaders, as well as organized informal sector self-employed workers.  Activists in all three groups are threatened because of their efforts to protect workers’ rights and livelihoods.

Participants will also spend some time in north-east Antioquia—the state/province hardest hit by anti-labor violence—where they will be hosted by our partner, human rights organization CAHUCOPANA, and learn about its grassroots struggle to promote and defend the human rights of campesino farmers, artisanal miners, and organized labour.

Participants will also learn about how the Canadian and U.S. “free trade” agreements with Colombia have adversely affected Colombian and North American workers’ rights.

Apply now!  Share this information with your coworkers!  Help protect your own jobs and stop the wage race to the bottom, which causes the brutal repression of Colombian rights and those of other workers in the global workforce.  Get your own labour union involved by sponsoring representatives for this delegation.




 

 

 

 

Help us promote this delegation by downloading, printing, and posting posters at your place of work, play, recreation, or worship:


 
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The posters can be printed in Black and White if you do not have access to a colour printerfor more info email delegations@cpt.org